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 Post subject: N&W J wreck?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 4:51 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 12, 2008 4:56 pm
Posts: 159
Location: Norwalk, Ohio
Last week i picked up this older 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" black & white snapshot photo on Ebay for $3.89 wich shows what looks like maybe a overturned N&W J class engine on a hillside.The only info the seller had on the listing was that he thought it was taken somewhere near the Portsmouth,Ohio area.The back of the photo is unmarked.It looks like a J to me but i can't make out any number on the engine.On the side of the overturned tender it looks like maybe it say's Norolk & Western but i'm not 100% sure.

Could this possibly be a photo of the wrecked 611 by the Tug River? From the photo it doesn't look like much of a river at the bottom of the hill unless it was really low or dried up? I don't know much about that wreck and i tried looking up photo's of that wreck on the web but did not get very good results other than finding it happened in 1956.If it is that peticular wreck,was anyone hurt or killed and what was the cause of the wreck? Thank's!


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 Post subject: Re: N&W J wreck?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:38 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 7:41 pm
Posts: 57
Location: Salisbury, NC
Yep, that is the Tug River wreck. The photographer was on the opposite bank, low on the hill, which is why it looks like there isn't a lot of water.
The engineer was the only one killed in the wreck. The cause was listed as too fast around a curve ( about 8 or 10 over, I think ), but in the years since, some have said that the engineer may have had a massive heart attack that killed him before the wreck, causing the high speed in the curve.

There is still a dent in the sandbox of the engine that you can see when the skyline casing is off. If you see any good overhead shots of the engine, one of the tops on the sanddome on the fireman's side sits a little low due to the dent. There is also a crease in the fireman's side of the tender that is thought to have come from this wreck.

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 Post subject: Re: N&W J wreck?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:03 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 12:25 pm
Posts: 3923
I have often wondered why the 611 was the surviving J at the end of N&W steam. The 613 was the last one built. And 612 also was slightly newer. Is this Tug River wreck perhaps the reason? Maybe the repairs to the engine got her a later flue time? Or maybe the cost of the repairs made the N&W want to keep her around a bit longer to try to recoup some of the extra expense that they had tied up in her. Probably the wreck had no bearing on why she ended up as the last J. But just curious.

Les


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 Post subject: Re: N&W J wreck?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:44 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:21 am
Posts: 312
This wreck is in fact why #611 survived. While all the other J class were rounded up, 611 was in the shop / yard at Williamson, and escaped.


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 Post subject: Re: N&W J-Class Wreck?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:17 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:37 pm
Posts: 162
Location: Detroit, Michigan
That is the famous photo of N&W 611 involved in the Tug River Wreck. The one N&W VHS tape I've got featured this photo when they were talking about the 611's history.

After the wreak, 611 was put into freight service for a short period of time, and later on was return to passenger service. Finally N&W, decided to retired all of the J-Class locomotives in favor of diesels. The last passenger trip that the 611 had pull in service for N&W was ironically an NRHS fan trip.

After her last run, 611 was sent to a scrapper, and N&W photographer O. Winston Link was horrified to see her ready to be scrapped. He managed to pull some strings with N&W management to saved 611 from the scrapper. From there 611 was sent to VMT, and the rest is history.

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 Post subject: Re: N&W J wreck?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:38 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:49 am
Posts: 552
I heard a rumor years ago about that wreck that hopefully somebody can get me straight on. I was told that the 611 totally cleared the other main track (yes I mean she was airborne), landed on her side and slid to where the picture was taken. Anybody know the truth to that?


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 Post subject: Re: N&W J wreck?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:19 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 7:41 pm
Posts: 57
Location: Salisbury, NC
Txhighballer,

I have heard the same thing about the engine clearing the other track. I have no idea if it is true or not. If it is, it gives an idea to the violence of the crash.

After the wreck, the engine was obviously shopped. As a result, she had more flue time left that the other J's. As far as being the one picked for the last run and to be saved, the 611 was the first in line of 4 J's waiting to be scrapped in either Bluefield or Williamson. Since she was the first in line, she was the one picked for the final run and then put in the roundhouse in Shaffer's Crossing after the run. The efforts of Link and Robert Claytor convinced Stuart Saunders, N&W Pres at the time, to keep the engine away from the scrappers. Jim Wrinn's book, Steam's Camelot, as well as a lot of the N&W books out there, tell that story with good detail.

An interesting bit, the skyline casing on those engines were all one piece - the part that sits above the boiler and hides the sand dome, whistle, etc. When the 611 came out of the shop, the workers left the top open for maintenance, but from the ground, you can't tell it. The top 'cover' of the casing was put back on either before going to VMT or during the restoration, but it makes the 611 the only J with a 3-piece casing. A random bit of trivia for you...... :)

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 Post subject: Re: N&W J wreck?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:36 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:51 pm
Posts: 6836
Location: Baltimore, MD
Txhighballer wrote:
I heard a rumor years ago about that wreck that hopefully somebody can get me straight on. I was told that the 611 totally cleared the other main track (yes I mean she was airborne), landed on her side and slid to where the picture was taken. Anybody know the truth to that?


Said report, as I recall, was recounted in the magazine stories on 611 and the J's in general that were published in Trains/Railfan & Railroad when 611 came back to life in the 1980s. Part of this story's function was to emphasize the J's relatively high center of gravity; because of that high center of gravity and the subsequent reduction in super-elevation of curves on the N&W main post-steam, 611 originally had a speed limitation of track speed on tangents and 10 mph below posted speed on curves. This was largely rendered redundant after the 1987 Great Dismal Swamp wreck, after which all NS rule books stated a maximum speed of 40 mph for all steam locomotives.

In another side note to how much locomotive leases cost, the late Arthur Bixby Sr., former Va. Museum of Transportation curator and Roanoke NRHS life member, said in an article in a 1992 issue of the NRHS Buletin that Norfolk Southern paid the City of Roanoke $5,000 a year to lease 611.


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 Post subject: Re: N&W J wreck?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:57 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 8:19 am
Posts: 502
Location: Scottsboro, AL
Investigation report of the accident on January 23, 1956 can be found at the DOT special collections web site:

http://ntl1.specialcollection.net/scripts/ws.dll?websearch&site=dot_railroads

Alan Maples


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 Post subject: Re: N&W J wreck?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:16 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:01 pm
Posts: 103
Location: Chattanooga
Very interesting article. Here's the actual PDF version:

http://ntl1.specialcollection.net/scripts/ws.dll?file&fn=6&name=*S%3A%5CDOT_56GB%5CRailroad%5CWEBSEARCH%5C3676.PDF

"The calculated theoretical safe and overturning speeds for the engine moving on a 13 degree 30' curve having a superelevation of 4-1/2 inches are, respectively, 35.4 miles per hour and 53.6 miles per hour."

Would this indicate 611 had to be traveling in excess of 53.6 mph?


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 Post subject: Re: N&W J wreck?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:46 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:51 pm
Posts: 6836
Location: Baltimore, MD
DavidKaplan wrote:
"The calculated theoretical safe and overturning speeds for the engine moving on a 13 degree 30' curve having a superelevation of 4-1/2 inches are, respectively, 35.4 miles per hour and 53.6 miles per hour."

Would this indicate 611 had to be traveling in excess of 53.6 mph?


53.6 mph gets it to turn over.

Raise that if you're trying to flip it over the adjacent track. <:-/


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 Post subject: Re: N&W J wreck?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:54 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 1:50 pm
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DavidKaplan wrote:

Would this indicate 611 had to be traveling in excess of 53.6 mph?


That's the way I read it. All the eyewitness testimony was taken from employees, and employees are notorious for crafting their testimony to protect the guilty. Everyone interviewed knew there was a speed restriction on the curve; I'm not surprised that none of the employees didn't say, "I was a wonderin' if we was gonna make it around that bend at sixty!"

If you read more of the ICC accident investigation reports, you will see time and again where everything was supposedly alright until something just happened. That's why the investigators spent so much time documenting the physical scene; physics doesn't lie.

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 Post subject: Re: N&W J wreck?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:45 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2008 10:45 am
Posts: 20
Thanks for the link to the investigation report. There's a lot of neat information in there. Those engines sure traveled a lot back then. I noticed that the 611 had been shopped exactly two months before on 11/23/55 but had already logged over 30,500 miles before the accident. That's a continous average speed of almost 21mph for those 61 days. When you subtract any time spent in the shop, at stations, coaling, water, etc, the time it spent actually going forward on those 61 days would indicate it was usually moving at a pretty good clip. It also had been given repairs in Norfolk on 1/22/56, the day before the wreck which occured less than an hour into the next day. They didn't sit around gathering dust that's for sure.


Steve


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 Post subject: Re: N&W J wreck?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:18 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:57 pm
Posts: 236
Location: Birmingham, AL
Recently posted 8mm of N&W 611 being towed from Attalla, Al to Irondale, Al on Oct. 28, 1981 for initial rebuild. This is a silent video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R19euJnXBvg

Here's another,This is 611's inital break in run after the rebuild.
611's first wheel turned, first mile, first wheel slip, and probably the first time on AGS North under steam.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OCw26yigEU

Thanks to Cary Atkinson for sharing it on Youtube.
Bill


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 Post subject: Re: N&W J wreck?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:24 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:32 pm
Posts: 2
Just a little addendum to an old thread:

My paternal grandfather, Charles Frederick Puckett, was the senior mail clerk in the RPO car when 611 jumped the tracks at the Tug River. I was only four months old, at the time, but listened to him retell the story of the wreck for the next forty-some years. As he got up into his nineties, it gradually became the only story he would retell from his railroading days, and became more surrealistic with every telling, but there are a few points that stand out from his earlier recollections.

As I indicated, my grandfather was an employee of the Post Office, and so worked for the federal government, instead of the N&W. That meant that, even though he rode behind 611 on a regular basis, and had some kind of relationship with its crew, he felt no need to watch what he said about the N&W.

His version of the story (for what it was worth) was that the engineer had committed suicide by locomotive. Supposedly, at the last stop before the accident, the engineer had made some kind of remark indicating (at least in the hindsight of whoever heard it) that he didn't intend to make it to the next station.

My grandfather's claim, as I recall it from my earliest memories, was that 611 had actually been going over 70 mph when it hit the curve and, as was mentioned in an earlier post, that it went from the inside track of the curve down the bank of the Tug river without touching the outside track.

RPO clerks were armed, in those days, and my grandfather was very proud of having stood an armed watch over the mail, until relief came from the Post Office, even though he had suffered a broken arm in the course of the wreck.

I suppose there are other details from his story that I might recall if I probed my memory for a while, but what really stands out, overall, was the abiding anger that my grandfather carried with him over what he saw as an N&W coverup of the story. Mainly, he focused on the N&W's ability to stifle the local media, but my guess is that, if prompted, he would have had a few things to say about the N&W's ability to shape the ICC's report on the accident, too.

As to the truth of his account, I have no opinion. Some of what he told me was from his own experience. Some was from contemporary rumors. At any rate, he was on the scene that day, so I figured it was a perspective worth passing on.


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